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Harvard Completes Steel Framework for Allston Energy Facility

Construction is underway in Allston.
Construction is underway in Allston. By Jacqueline S. Chea
By Truelian Lee and Jacqueline P. Patel, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: March 26, 2018 at 2:50 p.m.

Harvard last month completed the steel framework of the “District Energy Facility,” a building located on Harvard-owned land in Allston that will supply electricity and hot and cold water to the University’s nearby $1 billion School of Engineering and Applied Sciences complex.

The energy facility, designed by architecture firm Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects and located behind the SEAS complex, will span 58,000-square feet, according to the website for Harvard’s Office for Sustainability . The building will feature seven stories of classrooms and laboratories; and is slated for completion in summer 2020.

The topping off ceremony—during which construction workers placed the final steel beam on the building—took place in Feb. 2018.

A spokesperson for Harvard Energy & Utilities, the University office overseeing the construction of the district energy facility, wrote in a 2018 posting on the University's sustainability website that Harvard and Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects are working to build a “lower-carbon, climate resistant, and highly efficient district energy facility.”

The spokesperson, Colin B. Durrant, wrote in the posting that the SEAS complex—in part due to the district energy facility—will be “one of the most energy-efficient laboratory buildings of its size.”

According to the posting, the facility will include a 1.3-million-gallon tank of cold water that will be used to cool the SEAS complex in a “cheaper and less-polluting” manner. This tank, which—when constructed—will comprise the largest thermostat storage facility in Massachusetts, will use electricity to cool the water contained in the tank at off-peak hours.

The system functions much like a massive battery storing energy.

Doug Garron, the managing director of Harvard’s Campus Services Energy and Facilities, wrote in an emailed statement last week that the district energy facility will boast “reliability, resiliency, and efficiency.”

“Providing heating, cooling, and electricity is an important part of supporting the University’s leading-edge research and teaching,” Garron wrote. “The new facility is designed to be flexible so that it can adapt to changes in technology, helping Harvard meet its long-term sustainability goals.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction and clarifications:

CORRECTION: March 26, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated that the architectural firm that designed the district energy facility is Behnisch Architekten. In fact, Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects designed the facility.

CORRECTION: March 26, 2018

A previous version of this article incorrectly contextualized a quote from Colin B. Durrant's posting. When Durrant wrote the building would be “one of the most energy-efficient laboratory buildings of its size," he was referring to the SEAS complex, not the district energy facility.

CLARIFICATION: March 26, 2018

A previous version of this article indicated Colin B. Durrant's posting about the district energy facility is hosted on Harvard's Office for Sustainability website. To clarify, the posting is hosted on Harvard's sustainability website, which includes the work of the office for sustainability.

—Staff writer Truelian Lee can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @truelian_lee.

—Staff writer Jacqueline P. Patel can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jppatel99.

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